I think that Oudtshoorn is all about birds – birds with long legs! This little town is know as the ostrich capital of the world. A town so famed for these interesting birds had to make its mark on our road trip around the Western Cape, and we spent a day exploring various activities in and around Oudtshoorn.
Here is our mini guide for Outdshoorn to keep you engaged, if you intend to spend 24 hours here.
Things to do
While the long legged beauties are the key attraction here, the town offers other unique experiences that you will recollect for years to come. Here are the three things that we thoroughly enjoyed in one day that we spent at Oudtshoorn
People fancy riding an elephant, a camel or a horse – Ankur and I were through with this before the age of 10! How many of us fancy riding an ostrich? We didn’t even know that such a thing could be done until we reached the ostrich farm; and the minute we knew of it, it moved into our bucketlist! For those of you who fancy this task, let me tell you that it is not graceful at all. You will not feel like a knight; au contraire, you will feel like a buffoon that an irritated ostrich is jostling around. There is no concept of gracefully mounting, riding or dismounting the bird!
A brown paper bag covers the ostrich’s head. You sit on the bird and cling on to its wings and then the bag is removed. The ostrich darts like a bullet and in a few seconds, the ride is over. Two helpers grab your arms and ensure that you are off the ostrich, both you and the ostrich being safe and sound – there is no other way to do it! Those who aren’t sure whether they want to do it – Just Do It! It is a ride that you will remember for years to come!
If riding a bird is way too much adventure for you, just let it peck some bird feed from your hand. And oh, did I mention, ostriches love shiny objects. Leave behind the sparkling pendant at home, unless you want it to end up in the bird’s stomach. You can also stand on ostrich eggs – they are strong! Three eggs together can hold a weight of upto 75 kgs!
The ‘traditional’ tour of the farm, which includes seeing the birds and chicks, feeding them and watching the farm jockeys ride them costs ~ZAR100. This may not include you being the jockey or having an omelette made from ostrich eggs, which may cost extra.
Cango Wildlife Ranch
This is the best wildlife ranch that I have ever seen till date. If you have kids with you, this place is a must go. White tigers, lions, cheetahs – they are all there!
And not only can you see them, you can touch their cubs as well, which does cost extra, but it is worth every cent. I spent a while with a white tiger cub called Nina. Nina loved my shoe laces and wanted to nibble on them – very cute, but a wee bit scary too.
Oudtshoorn: Say ‘Hello’ to Nina!
The highlight of the day, for me, was playing with nine tiny cheetah cubs, who were busy running around me in circles! For Ankur, the highlight was patting ‘Jordan’ on his back after he had finished a performance (thus proving that he wasn’t drugged). Oh, let me introduce Jordan – the three year old cheetah who doesn’t mind being pampered!
For those who want a little more adrenaline pumping- ‘crocodile cage diving’ is the thing for you!
The entrance ticket to the Cango Wildlife Ranch is ~ ZAR 145. Every encounter costs additional money.
Stalactites and stalagmites below the surface make me feel that there is ‘action’ in a seemingly ‘quite’ place. The calcium pillars grow over centuries and form interesting structures. We compare these formations with better known things above the surface and give them even more interesting names.
If you haven’t explored such formations earlier, you must definitely spend a few hours at the Cango Caves. We took the longer tour/adventure tour that had a duration of 1.5 hours and would recommend the same if you are in good health. For those who like to take things easy, we would suggest the shorter 1 hour tour. The most interesting part of the 1.5 hour tour is the ‘Post Box’ at the end. It’s a small slippery (but dry) hole from which one has to slide in order to emerge on the other side – the way a letter slides into a post box! The longer adventure tour cost us ~ZAR 100.
Where to stay
There is a variety of accommodation available at Oudtshoorn – backpacker hostels, B&Bs and budget as well as luxury hotels. Well, the honeymoon called for some extravagance as we chose to stay at the HLangana Lodge, a small and cosy property. We loved our room – classy interiors with a small sit out to enjoy a cup of coffee!
The town is fairly small and isn’t a ‘happening’ place after sunset. Night life in the Western Cape is pretty much restricted to Cape Town. We were pretty indifferent to the location of the accommodation as we were on a road trip and were looking for a warm, friendly place – HLangana Lodge was perfect.
This wasn’t an easy deal. The South Africans love their meat! There wasn’t much variety available throughout out the trip – Oudtshoorn was no exception. I guess, back then, we were newbie travellers and were fussy eaters as well. Most menus have at least one vegetarian pasta, risotto or sandwich -so there is something to eat.
We had an al fresco dinner at The Black Swan cafe, which was a few minutes walk from Hlangana lodge. The ambience was nice and romantic – or was it just the honeymooning mood? While the vegetarian options were limited, the pasta that we had was tasty.
Oudtshoorn, and more so, the ostriches, deserve a day in your trip to the Western Cape…don’t leave them out!
As always… send us an e-mail if you need any further details. Glad to help!